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FanDuel DFS MLB Strategy Advice: Sunday 9/6

Sep 6, 2020

Paul Goldschmidt has crushed lefties, including Sunday opponent Jon Lester, throughout his career.

Sunday’s games feature a lot of divisional matchups and some premier pitching. Three of the best aces in the game take the hill in matchups that suit them, so I’d recommend investing in Shane Bieber, Jacob deGrom, or Aaron Nola if the budget fits.

If not, then there are other, cheaper, pitching options — some extremely cheap – that might fit your fancy. And even though aces might be fun to watch on a Sunday afternoon, they certainly limit the upside of lineup stacks. There’s only one I really like for Sunday, and it comes from an extensive history of Cardinal success against lefty Jon Lester.

Should you choose to go for one of the big three aces on this Labor Day Eve, then there is plenty of hitting value to find, particularly at second and third base. Let’s check out Sunday’s slate.

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Pitcher

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) at BAL $8,500 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Johnny Cueto (SF) vs. ARI $7,900 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Tejay Antone (CIN) at PIT $5,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 

Masahiro Tanaka has been very good over his last two starts, allowing only two earned runs in 11 innings while striking out 11 and walking just one. Outside of one bad outing against the Rays on August 18, he’s been extremely consistent. His velocity is up on his fastball (92.8 mph) and cutter (89.6 mph) from last season, and hitters are generating contact at a 72.5% rate, which is lower than his 74.9% career average. He faces the Baltimore Orioles, who have taken two of three from the struggling Yankees and haven’t scored fewer than four runs in a game this week. Tanaka will have his hands full, but I like him as an economical play on Sunday.

It’s easy to recommend a starting pitcher against Arizona. The Diamondbacks have been awful, losing 14 of their last 16 games. In those losses, they’ve scored two runs or fewer 10 times. One of those losses was last Sunday against Johnny Cueto, who went 6.2 innings allowing just one run on a solo homer and striking out six. Cueto’s advanced metrics show he is still an above-average pitcher, and if he can push six or seven innings again, you may find a hefty profit at a low cost.

If you have an itch to deploy the heaviest hitters, I offer you Tejay Antone. Getting the nod in place of Sonny Gray, who gets an extra day off, Antone draws a good matchup against the struggling Pirates (lost seven of 10). Sure, he’s never pitched more than four innings in his short MLB career, but he brings an electric 11.95 K/9 to the table (27 K in 20.2 IP) and ranks in the 97th percentile in xwOBA against. His fastball averages 95.7 mph and is complemented by a slider that averages 95.9 mph. The Pirates strike out a lot (24.4%) and have no punch in their offense (72 wRC+ and MLB-worst .130 ISO). You will most likely not get a quality start, but you may very well receive five innings with seven to eight strikeouts and a win. As the cheapest pitcher on Sunday’s slate, Antone could be just the value you’re looking for.

Catcher / First Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Paul Goldschmidt (STL) at CHC $3,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Joey Votto (CIN) at PIT $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Yadier Molina (STL) at CHC $2,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 

Joey Votto has surged back into fantasy relevance again, posting hits in eight of his last nine games, homering in three of those games, and scoring eight runs. He’ll face off against Chad Kuhl and has some success against the Pirates righty, going 6-for-11 with one home run.

In another NL Central matchup, I like Yadier Molina for his history against Lester. Molina is one of several Cardinals to enjoy past profits against the Cubs veteran, batting .333/.467/.417 with four extra-base hits (including a homer) in 39 at-bats. He may not rake on Sunday, but he offers a high floor for a rock-bottom price.

Now, if you want a right-handed hitter who might just tee off against lefty Lester, let’s stay in the Cardinals’ dugout and go with Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt’s career numbers support not only success against Lester, but ownage of lefties in general. Goldy feasts on southpaws, posting a robust .318/.428/.586 lifetime slash. His ISO jumps (.268 vs LHP, .220 vs. RHP), he strikes out much less (18.9% vs LHP, 23.6% vs. RHP), and he hits the ball much harder (47.8% hard-hit vs. LHP, 40.6% vs. RHP). Against Lester, he’s batting .471/.550/.647 in 17 at-bats with a homer. This is easily one of the best matchup plays of the day at any position.

Second Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jake Cronenworth (SD) at OAK $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Jonathan Schoop (DET) at MIN $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

 

Jake Cronenworth is very likely the NL’s Rookie of the Year favorite, and yet he’s still cheaper than many of the more flashy names at the keystone position. The left-handed Cronenworth will draw a nice matchup against righty Mike Fiers (6.01 xFIP, 13.0 K%) on Sunday. One of my favorite advanced metrics of the 2020 season is that Cronenworth — based on his hit profile, according to Statcast – has the highest expected batting average in all of baseball (.389). Yeah, he’s for real.

Regarding Schoop, I just can’t resist continuing to plug him in as a value play. He is ridiculously consistent, not having gone two games without a hit since August 9-10. He’s batting .301 with eight homers and 21 RBIs, averaging 10.7 FPPG, and still costs you just $3,000. The right-handed Schoop will get lefty Rich Hill, who has not overpowered in his 16 innings pitched so far, striking out 10. I gave Schoop the high risk because Hill has gotten the better of Schoop, keeping him hitless in eight at-bats in their previous matchups. Still, I like the play.

Third Base

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Eugenio Suárez (CIN) at PIT $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High
Dylan Moore (SEA) vs. TEX $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Evan Longoria (SF) vs. ARI $2,800 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low

 

Get him while he’s hot! Eugenio Suárez homered three times on Saturday after homering once on Friday, bringing his total to nine since August 23. He’s a boom-or-bust option, so if you feel like playing a sizzling bat, Suárez is your guy. He has light success against Kuhl, going 4-for-13 with one double, three walks, and two strikeouts.

Dylan Moore isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s a bargain on Sunday against Jordan Lyles of the Rangers. Lyles has been hit hard to a 8.59 ERA in 29.1 innings this year. Statcast’s xBA (.290) is a little lower than his actual BABIP (.324) so he might be a little unlucky, but still ineffective. But let’s get to the better argument. Moore is one of the better DFS secrets of the season. He has power and speed (five HR, seven bags), resulting in a rather impressive 13.1 FPPG. To put that in perspective, that’s more than Nelson Cruz, Freddie Freeman, Luis Robert, Anthony Rendon, and many other fantasy stalwarts. Statcast agrees with the production with a .295 xBA, .538 xSLG, and a 90.3-mph average exit velocity

Evan Longoria is quietly putting together a nice season for the Giants, hitting .294 with five homers. Statcast likes his hitting profile as well; his .315 xBA of .315, .586 xSLG, and .400 xwOBA of .400 are all in the top 9% of MLB. Longoria’s 90.8 mph exit velocity is higher than any season since 2016. Like Schoop, I like Longoria’s value because of his consistency. Going back to August 14, you’ll only find five games in which he didn’t post at least 6.0 FanDuel points. He’s only $2,800 and will draw a favorable righty-lefty matchup against Arizona’s young southpaw Alex Young, who’s been barreled up quite a bit in 2020 (14.0%) and owns an .574 xSLG against.

Shortstop

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Tim Anderson (CHW) at KC $3,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Paul DeJong (STL) at CHC $3,000 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium

 

Paul DeJong completes our righty stack against Lester. DeJong has success against Lester already (.333, one HR in 18 AB), but is also swinging the bat very well with 12 hits in his last nine contests, including two homers. He’s not a flashy pick, but he’s a good value in a lineup that could succeed in Sunday’s NL Central showdown.

“Mr. Anderson!” Tim Anderson is a little more pricey than the usual “value” plays, but for $3,700, I can’t resist. He’s batting .360 this year with seven homers and four stolen bases, posting 14.77 FPPG. This is a better output than Manny Machado, Trevor Story, Bryce Harper, or Corey Seager, but he costs less than all of them. He’ll face Matt Harvey, who has allowed 12 runs in 7.2 innings this year.

Outfield

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Kyle Lewis (SEA) vs. TEX $3,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Ian Happ (CHC) vs. STL $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Michael Brantley (HOU) at LAA $3,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Franmil Reyes (CLE) vs. MIL $3,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ High

 

Ian Happ has six home runs in his last seven games. He’s hurting baseballs this season (54.0% hard-hit) and scores high marks as well in exit velocity (91.8), xwOBA (.405), and xSLG (.558). I don’t love the pitching matchup here, as Dakota Hudson has been solid (2.77 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 1.04 HR/9).

Kyle Lewis has cooled off a bit, but Sunday’s matchup against Lyles seems like a perfect time to buy. Even with his recent slump, Seattle’s rookie is still batting .317 with eight homers. He’s also scored 29 runs in 38 games played, a 162-game pace of 123 runs. He’s produced a solid 11.96 FPPG in 2020.

There may not be a stranger indication of how weird 2020 is than the fact that Franmil Reyes is batting .324. The big man’s career average is .270. He’s facing left-hander Brett Anderson, a favorable matchup even though Reyes has a career batting average nearly 50 points higher against righties (.304) than lefties(.257). Reyes is always a high risk because of his career 28.1% strikeout rate, so deploy at your own risk.

From a high risk to a low one, Michael Brantley is back to Michael Brantley-ing of late. The hitting machine is batting .389 with two homers and 11 RBIs in the last two weeks. On Sunday, he’ll have a lefty-righty matchup to look forward to against Jaime Barria. The 24-year-old Barria has been solid according to Statcast, sitting in the 90th percentile or better in several key stats (Hard Hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, xERA, Barrel %). Still, I’ll take the veteran Brantley at $3,300.

Five Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Shane Bieber (CLE), $11,800: The most expensive player in the game draws a Brewers team that doesn’t hit well as a unit and strikes out second-most in MLB (26.5%). Bieber has failed to record at least 49 DFS points only once all season.
  • Aaron Nola (PHI), $10,700: In 185 carrer ABs, the Mets collectively have a .553 OPS collectively against Nola. The last time he faced them on August 15, Nola tallied 55 points in a win at home.
  • Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL), $4,300: Acuña has four homers and five runs in his last three contests. Despite battling injuries all year, he is still posting 14 FPPG.
  • Kyle Tucker (HOU), $3,800: On the verge of stardom, Tucker has raised his average from .250 to .283 since August 25, homering three times and driving in 13 runs in that span.
  • José Abreu (CWS), $3,800: He just keeps hitting. Abreu owns a 19-game hitting streak and homered on Saturday. He hits homers in bunches, and he’s facing Harvey on Sunday. I like those odds.

 Five Notable Players to Fade

  • Robbie Ray (TOR), $7,300: Ray has not pitched more than five innings all year and has issued an eye-popping 32 walks in 34.1 IP.
  • Juan Soto (WAS), $4,600: Soto has not played since being scratched on Friday. Keep an eye on the starting lineups for Sunday’s afternoon game against Atlanta.
  • Freddie Freeman (ATL), $4,000: Freeman is 5-for-26 with 11 strikeouts in his career against fellow lefty Patrick Corbin. He’s not worth the price with that history.
  • J.T. Realmuto (PHI), $3,600: Realmuto probably doesn’t love the idea of facing deGrom. He’s hitting just .160 with nine strikeouts in 25 career at-bats against the back-to-back NL Cy Young Award winner.
  • Charlie Blackmon (COL), $3,700: Blackmon homered on Saturday, but he’s still just 6-for-36 in the last two weeks, and he’ll be in a lefty-on-lefty showdown with Julio Urias in Los Angeles.

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Steven Boysko is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Steven, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter, @StevenBoysko.

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